John Charles Thomas’ practice focuses on appellate practice, and alternative dispute resolution.

Thomas is a retired justice of the Supreme Court of Virginia. He has ruled on thousands of appellate matters addressing the full range of Virginia law.

Thomas is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Virginia, the Supreme Court of the United States, and the United States Courts of Appeal for the 4th, 6th, 9th, 10th, and 11th and D.C. Circuits. He is an AAA Mediator and Arbitrator and serves on the AAA Panel of Commercial Arbitrators as well as on the AAA Panel of International Arbitrators. Since June 2005 he has been a Judge of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

A frequent speaker and lecturer across the country and around the world, Thomas has lectured at the Interim University Center in Dubrovnik, Croatia on “Enforcing Interim Arbitral Awards Under the New York Convention”; he has delivered the Constitutional Law lecture to the Firsties at the United States Military Academy at West Point; and he has delivered the “First-Day, First Year” lectures at the University of Virginia School of Law and the College of William & Mary School of Law since 1990. He has taught Appellate Advocacy at the University of Virginia School of Law. In 2019 he was the “Jurist in Residence” at the Gonzaga Law School in Spokane, WA.

Relevant Experience

  • Argued appellate matters involving insurance coverage issues, traumatic brain injury, international letters of credit, dealership terminations, defamation, automobile crashworthiness, workers compensation, medical malpractice, construction disputes, public official's right to hold office, and product liability.
  • Drafted appellate briefs regarding EPA regulations, Certificates of public need, trademark infringement, State environmental law, zoning, automobile crashworthiness, product liability, redistricting, public funding of business development, First Amendment billboard cases, asset purchase agreements, misappropriation of computer programs, trade secrets, state tax laws, maritime tort liability, and franchise law.
  • Mediated high-profile dispute regarding construction of public facility; long-term dispute within religious institution; multi-party insurance coverage and liability issues.
  • Arbitrated intellectual property dispute over ownership and use of photo database; construction dispute involving subsoil conditions; boundary dispute between Virginia localities; disputes arising under the World Anti-Doping Code in international sports.
  • Litigated franchise issues such as failure to meet standards, location of competing franchises, installation of drive throughs and quality control of ingredients; litigated construction suits, personal injury defense, and breach of buyout agreements.
  • Conducted mock appellate proceedings for arguments in U.S. Supreme Court, Supreme Court of Virginia, Supreme Court of Georgia, the New York Court of Appeals, the Second Circuit, the District of Columbia Circuit, the Fourth Circuit, the Eleventh Circuit, and the Federal Circuit.


  • Trustee Emeritus, The Thomas Jefferson Foundation
  • Member, Virginia, Richmond, Old Dominion, National, International and American Bar Associations
  • Fellow, American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, College of Commercial Arbitrators, and Virginia Law Foundation

Awards & Recognition

  • Selected as a Best Lawyer for Appellate Practice, Virginia, The Best Lawyers in America, 2007–2020.  A description of the selection methodology can be found on Best Lawyers’ webpage.
  • Named among the Legal Elite for Appellate Law, Virginia Business magazine, 2011–2018. A description of the selection methodology can be found on Virginia Business’ webpage.


  • Events

    • William O. Douglas First Amendment Lecture, Gonzaga Law School, March 2019
    • William & Mary Convocation, September 2017
    • Hampton University Commencement, June 2014
    • William & Mary Law Commencement, May 2012